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Children's books

Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children. The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Making books and creating readers: a collaboration from the start

A picture book that can stand up to multiple readings is a good one in my book. You know what I’m talking about — the books a child wants to hear (or read independently) over and over. These are most books with enough textual and visual interest to engage time and again. But a picture book does so much more.

A conversation with Emily Arnold McCully

Emily Arnold McCully has taken readers on a family Picnic, introduced The Queen of the Diamond and a dog named Strongheart. She may be best known as the Caldecott Medalist who took readers to Paris to view the city along with Mirette on the High Wire.

I heard Ms. McCully speak recently at a meeting where she agreed to answer some questions about her work.

How to Encourage Summer Reading: A Parent's Guide

Summer is almost upon us. The days are growing longer, the sun is higher in the sky, and soon school will be over for the year. Our children’s thoughts now turn to swimming, skateboards, baseball, and bike riding.

Unfortunately, for far too many of kids, summer vacation is a time for forgetting. You’ve probably heard that “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” That’s certainly true about reading. Kids who don’t read over the summer regress. Their hard-earned reading skills decline.

My Avid Book Listener

Connecting kids with what they need to become engaged readers and learners includes personal and relevant experiences that build confidence. Tami Mounts shares some of the opportunities she’s found in her community to help encourage her own daughter find joy in the written word.

Creative couple: an interview with Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome have been writing and illustrating together and individually for many years. And their work continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps James said it best: “What makes illustrating books so exciting is that because each book has a special voice, my approach toward each is different. Whether it be through my choice of palette, design or perspective, there is always a desire to experiment and explore what makes each book unique.”

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Working together: Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a bookstore program featuring author Lesa Cline-Ransome and artist James Ransome. This husband and wife team continues to create books for young readers that intrigue as well as inspire. And their work — together and as individuals — continues to evolve and grow.

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Guest Reader Season

Bringing guest readers into the classroom is a great activity any time of year. But the calendar is also full of opportunities for hosting special guests who read aloud. Many of these — including World Read Aloud Day, National African American Read-In, and NEA’s Read Across America — are coming up soon.

It’s a fact of life

“Diversity is not a trend.  It’s a fact of life.”

Neal Porter said this at a recent Children’s Book Guild meeting in Washington, D.C. In addition to giving insight into his long career in publishing (his books have won just about every major award including Caldecott Medals), Neal spoke to his hope for the future.

READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?)

I just came back from the inauguration of Jacqueline Woodson as the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. The National Ambassador program — co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader — was created in 2008 to "raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to literacy, education and the betterment of the lives of young people."

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb